It’s Free Book Time Again!

Thursday, April 26th and Friday, April 27th only, the Kindle edition of Final Hours will be available for free. To get a copy, here’s the link:

http://www.amazon.com/Final-Hours-ebook/dp/B002EAZIS8/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1335361768&sr=1-1

If you haven’t read it already, I hope you’ll check it out!

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From the Pages of the International Intruder: Characters’ Outrage

From beyond the Fourth Wall: Fictional characters are outraged by idiot reviewers. Unable to remain silent, some of them are here to do a roundtable discussion on the topic. From Chasing the Wind, we have Connor Mackenzie and Lynne Raven; from Final Hours, Jamie Randall and Kate McAllister; from Dance of the Gods, Alexander Kiriakis and Meredith Courtney; from Angels at Midnight, Collin Deverell and Ashley Gordon. Welcome, everyone.

JAMIE: Could we just dispense with the BS and get on with it?

INTRUDER: You sound angry.

ALEXANDER: He is. He gets a great deal of negativity because he’s an adulterer.

CONNOR: At least your reviewers were just making a commentary on your circumstances. We had morons who didn’t get that there was more than one first-person point of view. Pay attention!

JAMIE: Morons…the one species that will never be extinct.

KATE: Unfortunately.

ALEXANDER: We received one bad review…but it was at least from Publishers Weekly, from a reviewer who had more than a room-temperature IQ.

LYNNE: My personal favorite was the reviewer who started off with “Am I missing something?” Yes! A brain! Go to Oz. See if the Wizard will give you one!

COLLIN: I don’t recall us ever getting any bad reviews.Even Romantic Times gave us a good one.

ASHLEY: But our reviews all came from professional reviewers, after all. They didn’t hide behind anonymous postings. And we did get one on Amazon who objected to our story having too much sex.

CONNOR: How does anyone have too much sex?

Lynne slaps him playfully.

LYNNE: If one has something to say, they should at least have the backbone to identify themselves. Most of these reviewers don’t. Look at their profiles…usually no names, nothing to identify themselves.

MEREDITH: And in the Amazon forums, they say authors shouldn’t be allowed to comment on reader reviews. What are they afraid of?

KATE: If they believe they’ve made an honest evaluation of the material, they should own it.

JAMIE: What are they afraid of? Retaliation, maybe? Some of them are authors who don’t want a bad review in return. One author even posted on her blog that she will be doing reviews but not under her own name. I wonder who she’s planning to do a hatchet job on?

LYNNE: Everyone who didn’t like her book, maybe?

MEREDITH: In other words, they can dish it out but can’t take it.

CONNOR: In a word, cowards.

KATE: Exactly.

COLLIN: If you’re going to post a review, post your name, too. If you don’t believe in your review enough to own it, then shut up!

INTRUDER: Thank you, all of you, for your participation.

Rumor has it an army of fictional characters is forming to storm the fourth wall and take all idiot reviewers prisoner. Remember you heard it here first!

ASHLEY: It’s a good thing you didn’t invite the characters from An Army of Angels. Those Cantwell brothers get pretty rowdy.

INTRUDER: Their book isn’t published yet. They have no reviews to discuss.

As if on cue, the five Cantwell brothers–Paulie, Mike, J.J., Randy and Chuck–barge in, gathering around the table….

PAULIE: Hey, are we late?

MIKE: You guys didn’t start the party without us, did you?

INTRUDER: Uh, this is a discussion of idiot reviewers. Your book isn’t published yet and therefore has no reviews.

J.J.: You have a point there.

PAULIE: Those morons better not give us bad reviews–right, guys?

They mumble among themselves and nod in agreement.

PAULIE: Anybody gives us a bad review, we pay them a visit. In person.

RANDY: Yeah!

CHUCK: Nobody wants a visit from us. Just ask Robyn.

MIKE: We’ll teach those bozos a lesson!

CHUCK: Yeah!

JAMIE: How did you guys get past your keeper?

MIKE: Oh, it wasn’t hard at all, we–

Paulie slaps him upside the head.

RANDY: Don’t tell them, stupid!

PAULIE: Speaking of morons….

 

 

From the Pages of the International Intruder: Discovery in the Sinai–What Does it Mean?

Cairo : Rumors of an important archaeological discovery at one of the sites believed to be where Moses received the Ten Commandments–yes, those Ten Commandments–has led to worldwide speculation. Dr. Lynne Raven, whose team made the discovery, has so far refused to comment, but a member of that team, who has asked to not be identified, says it has nothing to do with the Exodus. What, then, could it be?

Read Chasing the Wind by Norma Beishir and find out!

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From the pages of the International Intruder: Asteroid Headed for Earth–Only the Wealthiest Will Survive

New York City: As the Asteroid Apophis streaks toward our planet, plans are underway to save the lives of our wealthiest and most powerful. With mostly private sector funding,  massive underground bunkers are being built. These bunkers have already been reserved for the planet’s political and financial leaders. Fair?  Hardly. But as we all know, life isn’t fair. If it were, rags like the Intruder would have been put out of business long ago!

Who will live and who will go out with a bang? Read Final Hours by Norma Beishir and find out!

The International Intruder…An Equal Opportunity Offender

I’ve introduced a new feature over on my website, Beishir Books. Way back when I was writing Silhouette Romances as Toni Collins, I created a fictional tabloid in one of them, Something Old. It was owned by a vampire (the joke being that all tabloid publishers are bloodsucking monsters). The International Intruder became rather popular with some of my fellow romance writers, who requested permission to feature it in some of their novels as well. This led to letters from readers who guessed: “You all know each other, don’t you?”


Try as we did to deny any such connection, our secret was out. We were having way too much fun with this!


Recently, I read a post on a blog for self-published authors that suggested promoting our books with character interviews and tabloid-style stories about events and characters on our blogs and websites. This gave me the idea to bring the Intruder out of mothballs and put it to good use. Collin quickly designed a nameplate for it….





I posted the first “story,” an interview with the five rowdy Cantwell brothers from An Army of Angels–I hope you’ll check it out! And while you’re there, have a look at the letters from readers I’ve posted!


You’ll also be seeing the Intruder over at the joint blog William Kendall and I created for our alter egos/pseudonyms, Basking in the Afterglow, and quite possibly on William’s blog, Speak of the Devil as well!







Blast from the Past: Letters from Readers

In the past week, I’ve been going through the last of my paper files, scanning everything so the hard copies can go to the shredder. As I was doing so, I found a file I hadn’t seen in several years. It contained letters I’d received from readers back when I was still with Berkley.

These days, we rarely get letters. When readers have something to say to us, it’s done via email, on our blogs and websites, our Facebook pages, or through reviews on Amazon, Smashwords, Barnes & Noble, etc.

Reading over these old letters, I found some I’d like to share here:

Do any of us ever get tired of comments like these? I think not! Sometimes, readers will give us some insight into how they chose our books:

And sometimes, they’ll tell us what we’re doing wrong. Bear in mind that these are comments about my conventionally-published books, which were proofread by me, my editor AND my copyeditor–and these goofs got past all three of us:

 

And if these mistakes weren’t bad enough, take a look at this page from A Time for Legends, published by Berkley in 1990. Read the opening paragraph of the scene that starts on this page very carefully. Notice anything out of sync?

Yep. The guy’s wearing a bandana around his chest. That’s not what I wrote, but sometime after it went to the printer….

The comments we get online are not always so diplomatic. Online, readers/reviewers can be anonymous. They can take cheap shots at us without ever revealing their identities. They don’t have to put a return address on an envelope. The internet is full of trolls, and unfortunately, these sites are not exempt. Amazon, for example, requires only that one have an account and make at least one purchase in order to post reviews.

Don’t get me wrong. I believe in freedom of speech. I don’t expect everyone to love my books, nor do I expect anyone who doesn’t to keep it to themselves. I respect legitimately critical reviewers, even when I don’t agree with them.  Bad reviews are a fact of life for all authors. We can’t please everyone. I’ve been fortunate in that I’ve had only a few bad ones so far–but there’s a huge difference between a reviewer who’s read a book they don’t like and/or find full of factual and/or grammatical flaws and some so-called reviewers who just slam one book after another. This is a problem especially for self-published authors. It’s been suggested that some reviewers go out of their way to attack self-pubbed authors.  Author Elizabeth J. Kolodziej recently did a very insightful blog post on this. Check it out at http://www.vampyrekisses.com/?p=1761.

How do you tell the difference? Easily. Check the reviewer’s profile. No name? No info of any kind on the profile? How many reviews have they written? Are all of them 1-2 stars? Is the writing barely literate? Not someone you want making recommendations for what YOU read.

It would help if some of these people actually read the books they review. I had one bad review in which the reviewer wrote that Connor, my protagonist in Chasing the Wind, was some kind of superhuman but it was never revealed exactly who and what he was. Not true. It’s spelled out quite clearly….

 

 

 

From the Pages of the International Intruder: the Cantwell Brothers Tell All

After months of dogged pursuit, the notorious Cantwells have finally agreed to sit down with this reporter and talk about life, love, their kid sister and their famous brother-in-law. Thanks for the exclusive, gentlemen.

MIKE: Gentlemen? Where?

PAULIE: She means us, stupid.

J.J.: You’ll have to excuse Mike. He’s not all there, if you know what I mean.

INTRUDER: Not all there?

RANDY: He had a do-it-yourself lobotomy a few years back.

MIKE: That was an accident!

PAULIE: He has a metal thing in his head. Makes the TSA guys nuts when he flies.

INTRUDER: Is it true you boys grew up in a commune? That your parents were hippies?

PAULIE : I knew this was gonna come up. Yep. Mom and Dad were flower children and we all lived in a commune.  They didn’t turn respectable until most of us were adults.

CHUCK: They grew their own pot.

J.J.: You don’t have to tell everything, douchebag!

INTRUDER: I’ve heard they gave all of you hippie names and that you later had them legally changed.

PAULIE: I knew it! I was under the impression we were here to talk about Alex!

RANDY: It’s true. My name was Free. Robyn was Karma. Mike was Peace–

J.J.: And he even misspelled that!

RANDY: Yeah. He kept spelling it “Piece.”

INTRUDER: And the rest of you–what were your given names?

J.J.: I was Wind.

MIKE: We used to call him Breaking Wind.

J.J.: We still call you Lameass.

CHUCK: I was Star. Paulie was–

PAULIE: Shut up, Lameass!

MIKE: I didn’t say anything.

J.J.: Paulie’s name was Sunshine. Does he look like Sunshine to you?

RANDY: Maybe it was the blond hair….

INTRUDER: Your sister, Robyn, is married to the up-and-coming artist, Alex Stewart. What’s he like?

PAULIE: I had my doubts about him at first. He was living in a homeless shelter when she met him, for crying out loud! But he’s cool…even though he’s pretty tight-lipped about where he’s from and all.

INTRUDER: You don’t know anything about his past?

J.J.: I think Robyn knows, but she hasn’t told us anything.

INTRUDER: Nothing?

MIKE: Nope.

INTRUDER: Cassandra Adrian bought one entire series at his first show.

PAULIE: Yeah. The Images of Hell series.

INTRUDER: She declared it to be his best work, did she not?

MIKE: Yeah, but coming from her….

J.J.: She’s a strange one. All the charm of a cobra.

INTRUDER: You didn’t like the paintings?

PAULIE: They were creepy. Even Alex thought they were creepy.

RANDY: He said they came from his nightmares.

CHUCK: I’ve had weird nightmares, but that stuff’s beyond weird.

MIKE: It’s the kind of stuff that gives you nightmares.

INTRUDER:  Cassandra Adrian is one of the world’s foremost authorities–

PAULIE: On torture? That’s what this boiled down to. People being tortured.

INTRUDER: Why did Alex paint them, then?

PAULIE: He said he didn’t feel like he had any choice. Something was making him do it.

MIKE: You know, like that old comedy bit, “The devil made me do it.”

INTRUDER: You think the devil made him do it?

PAULIE: Don’t be silly. The devil’s just something you see when you’re on a bad acid trip.

INTRUDER: Thank you for your time, gentlemen….